Board

Meet the Board

Joy Walker - Chairperson

Joy is a Management Consultant assisting not for profit organisations and local governments to improve their strategic planning and operational service improvement capabilities. Previous work experience has been primarily in senior management roles within the not for profit sector, including experience of working within aged and disability services, a charity advocating for children and families; and the university sector in Australia.

Joy holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Business majoring in Public Relations and Event Management (LMU); a Certificate in Health and Social Care (Open University UK); a Cert IV in Training and Assessment; a Graduate Certificate in Management (Australian Institute of Management) and a Masters in Public Policy and Management (Monash University). She is currently studying the Science of Happiness online through UC Berkeley. Since discovering Appreciative Inquiry, Joy is a strong advocate of organisational development through emphasising inquiry into strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses.

Previous Board experience includes time served as Treasurer of Cheltenham Community Centre and as Chair of the Governing Body of a Primary School in West Yorkshire.

Originally from the UK, Joy moved to Australia in 2003 with her husband and two daughters, living in the South East area ever since. With strong feminist beliefs, Joy is committed to equality, women's health and the public sector in general.

Mary Manescu - Vice Chair

Mary has held a range of clinical and senior management appointments in both private and public sector. She joined the Department of Health and Human Services in 2003 working in private hospitals regulation, capital projects and more recently health services performance.

Mary has a clinical nursing background and is a graduate of Monash University, holding a Master of Health Services Management from that institution and is a qualified infection control practitioner.

Mary has a passion for quality improvement and is an accreditation surveyor with the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards.

She was born in Romania and migrated to Australia almost 20 years ago. She lives in Berwick and is looking forward to supporting women in the South East by advancing WHISE’s cause for gender equality and improved health outcomes through health promotion. 

Sinfree Chirunga - Treasurer

Sinfree is a Business Manager at Peninsula Health and has extensive experience in senior financial and management accounting roles in the health public sector as well as the private sector in Australia, UK and Africa. She holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) majoring in Business Consultancy from Deakin University; Bachelor of Accounting Science (BCompt.) from University of South Africa; Diploma of Business Accounting from Chartered Institute of Management Accountants CIMA UK; and a Diploma of Project Management from Swinburne University of Technology. 

Sinfree is passionate about innovation and continuous business process improvement and believes that leadership is about empowering others to do great things. 

Sinfree was born in Zimbabwe where her interest in voluntary work started at an early age when she partnered with Compassion Ministries in caring for destitute children and widows.  She migrated to the United Kingdom in the mid-90s and relocated to Melbourne 10 years ago.

Sinfree is committed to gender equality, empowerment of women, freedom from oppression and an end to family violence.

Rhiannon Matthews 

Rhiannon is a PR and communications consultant with over 10 years experience of working in senior management positions in the UK public sector. This includes roles within the UK and Welsh governments and for one of the largest integrated healthcare providers. She has worked with Ministers, Senior Civil Servants and Board Members, providing leadership and advice, and managing all aspects of communication campaigns.

Rhiannon now lives in Mount Eliza and uses her strategic communication planning skills to help organisations effectively reach their audiences. Her experience spans internal and external communications through to campaigns, public relations, digital engagement, stakeholder management, crisis communications and more.

Rhiannon is married with three young children and is passionate about equality issues. She has managed Family Violence Prevention Campaigns on the Mornington Peninsula and wants to use her skills to help WHISE improve health outcomes for women.

Priyanka Akula 

Priya is a Chartered Accountant (ICAA) and a Chartered Secretary (AGIA) with a strong background in external audit and internal controls; having worked on large-listed clients both in Australia and the USA. 

Having grown up in the south east suburbs of Melbourne, Priya commenced her journey with volunteering at the age of 16 with MOIRA.  Since then, she has pursued her passion for volunteering with various organisations such as Young UN Women Australia Melbourne Committee, Radio 3ZZZ and Special Olympics Victoria and Western Interchange.

Robyn Fry

Robyn’s background is in the law, corporate governance, regulatory compliance and organisational risk management. She has extensive in-house legal, contract management, regulatory compliance, litigation and governance experience in the healthcare sector having worked in the Australian pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries for more than 16 years. She also has 6 years public sector legal, compliance and governance experience.

Originally from Adelaide, South Australia, Robyn graduated with a Bachelor of Laws and has practised law since 1982. She moved to Melbourne in 1997 with her family and has been living in the South East since that time. In recent years Robyn has developed her not-for-profits legal and governance skillset through Governance Institute of Australia certificate qualifications and training opportunities.

Robyn is strongly committed to leveraging her longstanding legal and governance experience to make a positive contribution to achieve best practice in women’s health promotion and to improve the health and well-being of women in the Southern Metropolitan Region.

Maya Avdibegovic 

Maya Avdibegovic is currently Executive Director of Court Network Inc. Her previous role was the Strategic Advisor, Sector & Diversity at Family Safety Victoria, the first government agency dedicated to ending family violence. The agency is leading the implementation of many of the government's family violence reforms including establishing and operationalising 17 Support and Safety Hubs across Victoria, establishing a Central Information Point, which will allow police, courts and government services to track perpetrators and keep victims safe and establishing and housing the new Centre for Workforce Excellence to build workforce capacity and capability in partnership with the sector.

Maya was born in Bosnia and graduated from Sarajevo University. She fled war-torn Bosnia in 1992 and lived in Germany for three years before migrating to Australia in 1995.

Maya is MBA qualified and highly skilled in strategic and business planning, innovation, operational, financial and change management.

From 2009 to 2017 as the CEO of inTouch, Multicultural Centre against Family Violence, she transformed the organisation from its grassroots level to becoming a national leading agency.
Being a refugee and a migrant herself, Maya is passionate about supporting migrant women and their families to settle in Australia and have equitable access to services.

Elizabeth Benedetti

Elizabeth is a passionate, highly motivated and strategic HR professional with proven success in leading and managing high performing service teams to deliver best practice across HR functions including recruitment, onboarding, policy management, ER/IR advice, problem solving, Workday HRIS system management and payroll.  Strong stakeholder management skills along with involvement in mergers, business closures, sales, acquisitions and joint ventures within Pharmaceutical, FMCG, Finance and manufacturing sectors.

Elizabeth is passionate about giving back to the community commencing her volunteering journey in her early 20’s with the Salvation Army, Avocare, AIMS and Wellsprings for Women.

Elizabeth was born in Melbourne to Italian parents who migrated to Australia in the early 1950’s and is married to Mick and they have two boys, Luca & Dante.

Elizabeth looks forward to supporting WHISE and continuing to give back to the community, supporting migrant women and improving the health and well-being of women in the South East.